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  • Writer's pictureConvening Storytelling Team

Letter to Daniel

Dear Daniel, 

It began with a couple texts to your mom letting her know you weren’t in school.  After all, as a mom of boys your age, I felt like I would want to know if they weren’t in school.  You came stomping into my room, asking “why are you contacting my Mom?  I’m grown, and she is not really a part of my life anymore.”  The more we talked and got to know each other; and the more our school’s competency and project-based learning philosophy took off, the more it became clear that if you could do, learn about, and be assessed on things that interested you, you could motivate yourself for school (no Mom texts necessary!).  

Listening to the stories of your childhood, which were very different from my own and my boys', made me realize I had a lot to learn about you and what was going to inspire you and how to connect. 

Then there was a ladybug song…

Subbing in math one day, we were counting and I got inspired to sing the Ladybug Picnic song from my childhood days.  For some odd reason, it was a hit and thankfully, you chimed in and energetically sang it with me.  That night your baby son couldn't sleep and you remembered the Ladybug Picnic song and it calmed him and helped him go back to sleep.  A silly counting song became our CONNECTION!

As a teacher, this became my exemplar.  Find a way to connect and run with it (or sing with it!).  Whether it was singing other goofy songs together in parenting class or finding fun ladybug-themed items.  Having this connection made it easier to encourage, check-in, and finally be so proud of you at your graduation ceremony!  

As teachers we are never quite sure of what our students think or feel when looking back on their years at school, but I do know you are now an internship  mentor to our current students and have stayed connected to the New Legacy community in this role, as well as stopping by to visit.  Watching you start and run your own business and now dream up new business ventures is truly inspiring.  You are leading and you are giving back.   You have found your passion and are taking care of your family.  When our school’s vision statement was created you are the student they had in mind… 

We envision students and young families creating a legacy of education leading to a compelling career, financial independence, and positive parenting.

I wonder how things would’ve turned out if I had kept calling your mom and not taken the time to listen to your perspective on things?  If I had stayed rigid in my own beliefs of how school was done back in my day (attend all your classes, and do every assignment your teacher gives you).  I bet you still would’ve succeeded, but I know you wouldn’t seek me out for a hug on your return visits, offer to help me with my car, or reach out when you or your girlfriend have a parenting question like you do today.  And 4th period parenting class would not have been filled with so much singing, laughter, and joy!



Some notes from my journal during reflection time at the conference that inspired me to write this letter::

Find humanity in all, the goodness in all.  Slow yourself down.  Build the relationship and the daily tasks will get done. Build the relationship, and the learning will flow.  Build the relationship, and the competencies will be mastered!



Jenn Stephens

New Legacy Charter School

Jenn Stephens is a Parenting Educator and Advisor at New Legacy Charter School.  She has taught Parenting and Child Development classes since the school's opening in 2015 and has more recently become an Advisor.  She is a parent of 2 young adults who have given her lots of examples to draw from in her class.   She is from the East Coast, but has lived in Denver for the last 18 years.  She loves the mountains and the outdoors, identifying wildflowers, hiking with her husband and checking out new coffee shops with her friends.

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